Collection agencies that want to woo larger clients better not hold their breaths, because the sales cycle for those types of clients has expanded dramatically, according to one speaker during a webinar hosted yesterday by AccountsRecovery.net.
It is not uncommon for the sales cycle for a large client to now take four-to-tive years, said Misty Carson, the executive vice president of sales & marketing for MRS BPO. When she joined the firm a decade ago, the sales cycle could be measured in months, not years.
The webinar, which was sponsored by Cornerstone Support, also featured Joe Gelbard, the chief revenue officer at TrueAccord, and tackled the subject of helping collection agencies go after larger clients.
A copy of the webinar recording can be accessed by clicking here.
“The sales cycle was eight-to-12 months 10 years ago,” Carson said. “Now, it can be four to five years, or more to close that deal.”
Collection agencies need to be mindful of the financial and other resources that it will need to expend when going after larger clients. The longer sales cycles means more meetings, more phone calls, more time that is not being spent seeking other business. Agencies would be wise to make sure the benefits of landing the larger client are worth the investment in going after them in the first place, the speakers said.
The expectation of larger clients is also something that agencies need to take into consideration. Most larger clients are going to want collection agency partners to offer the same support options that they do, which may mean having online chat support, email-based support, and text messaging, to go along with traditional phone support, Carson said.
“Larger clients are offering omnichannel support in-house,” Carson said. “They want us to have the same level of support.”
Agencies need to be prepared for a comprehensive process that will see larger clients come in and look over every aspect of an agency’s business, Gelbard said. The initial sales call and first few conversations are just “the tip of the spear,” he said.
“The need to know that the operations team functions well and that the compliance team functions well,” Gelbard said.
Because the sales cycle is so long and because there are so many moving parts when dealing with larger clients, it is important to try and find an internal champion within a company, Gelbard said. Someone who can champion your cause within the organization.
“There will always been some detractors when you walk out of a meeting,” Gelbard said. “There is a lot of work in bringing on a new agency. They need to believe in you.”
Both Gelbard and Carson advised against being too aggressive when making initial forays into a new company. Carson said that the days of aggressive cold calling are over, in fact. Doing research on the pain points for a particular company or a particular industry can help show that a collection agency knows its stuff before sitting down for that first call.
And, at the end of the day, do not be afraid to ask difficult questions, Gelbard said. It is better to hear a no than it is to be strung along for months or years even though the company has no plans on hiring you.
“You’re better off hearing no, because people can always change their minds,” Gelbard said.